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fhe gave a fignal instance how much she rofe fuperior to the fears and jealousies incident to weak minds, in the propofal fhe made to the States of Scotland, to educate the young King at her own coft and at her own court, no doubt, as prefumptive heir to the Crown. A remarkable contrast to the conduct of Queen Anne, who, in circumstances nearly fimilar, could never endure the idea of feeing her fucceffor, whofe refidence in England would, as fhe declared, keep the image of her coffin perpetually before her eyes.
It would be an endlefs and invidious tafk, to adduce particular inftances of the folly, weakness, meanness, and pride, of the Scottish line of monarchs; if any one is disposed to vindicate them from these imputations, let him produce inftances of their wisdom, generofity, and magnanimity; for my part, I know of none. The Kings of the House of Stuart seem to have been utterly incapable of that elevation of mind which caft fo great a fplendour over the character of their illuftrious predeceffor. The behaviour of Charles I. at his trial and execution may be thought an exception, and he certainly, upon that occafion, exhibited remarkable proofs of firmnefs and calm refignation; fo did the unfortunate Mary, his grandmother, at Fotheringay Castle; fo did his descendant James, at the Abbey of La Trappe; but these are not inftances of that mental dignity of which I am now speaking, but of a certain natural courage, and inherent fortitude, which the manifold difficulties
difficulties and diftreffes in which that infatuated family have been involved, have given them frequent opportunities of demonftrating that they are by no means deftitute of.
are two obfervations which I think it proper to make before I conclude, in order to render complete justice to the character of Elizabeth. The first is, that there is no real foundation for the charge of avarice, fo often urged by the enemies of Elizabeth, and fo injurious to her reputation. To this charge it may be replied, that in the reign of Elizabeth the revenues of the crown were extremely circumfcribed, and parliament was not then in the habit of giving away millions in a breath; her œconomy was the pillar which fupported her authority and independency. Nevertheless, it is allowed that she lived in a ftile of great magnificence, far fuperior, certainly, to what the wretched appearance of the British court in our days can afford us any idea of. She cleared the crown, in a few years, of the heavy debts contracted by her father, brother, and fifter; fhe remitted great fums, at different times, to Scotland, to Holland, and to France: the debt due from Holland alone amounted at her death, to no less than 800,000l. for which she generously agreed to take no interest.The money advanced to Henry IV. she could never recover, being lent without adequate fecurity; though that monarch, in a few years after the peace of Vervins, had amaffed a great treasure; F 4
and the Queen reprefented, in the strongest terms, the neceffity to which she was reduced, by her long wars with Spain, and the Irish rebellion. She even went so far, as actually to refuse fubfidies, when she had not immediate occafion for the money. Thefe are facts which will admit of no difpute, and may be fet in oppofition to a thousand trifling ftories of her too close attention to certain minute articles of expence: that a felfish or avaricious. disposition should be capable of fuch acts of generofity, is a moral impoffibility.
The fecond obfervation I have to make is, that the Queen does not appear to me by any means fo culpable in the affair of Davidfon as fhe is generally reprefented. It would require a pamphlet instead of a paragraph to enter into a full difcuffion of this queftion. I fhall only fay, that Davidson appears to me much more the dupe of Burleigh than of Elizabeth. It seems evident, that the Secretary, at the fuggeftion of that nobleman, dispatched the warrant for the execution of the unfortunate Mary without the previous knowledge of the Queen, who could not be brought to a final determination upon the matter.
That her aftonifhment, anger, and indignation, were real, not affumed, appears from feveral circumstances. When the fatal intelligence was communicated, her countenance, Camden tells us, changed, her fpeech faultered, and fhe ftood fixed, for fome minutes, like a statue, till at
length her paffion vented itself in a violent burft of tears if this was diffimulation, it must be confeffed fhe had made a wonderful proficiency in that fcience indeed. Again, it is not pretended that the Queen's difpofition led her to unneceffary acts of injustice and cruelty; yet Davidson was not only punished with great severity at the time, but he never could recover, in the smallest degree, any fhare of the Queen's favour and regard, when it could no longer anfwer any end to keep up the political farce. Even Burleigh himself, Davidson's principal adviser on this occafion, received fuch convincing proofs of the reality of the Queen's refentment, that he gave himself up for loft, and in great confternation begged permiffion to refign his employments and retire to his estate in the country.
This plainly proves, that Burleigh's advice to Davidson was given, not with any expectation of making his court to the Queen, to whofe fentiments he cannot be supposed a stranger; but with a view to his own intereft and fecurity, which he never could be perfectly affured of as long as the Queen of Scots was in being. We have alfo the Queen's own folemn affeveration and appeal to God, in her letter to King James on the occafion, that this tranfaction paffed without her knowledge or intention. "She could never, furely, she affirms, be esteemed fo base and poor fpirited, as that if she had really given orders for this
this fatal execution, fhe could on any confideration be induced to deny them. Though sensible of the juftice of the fentence, fhe had determined from motives of clemency not to carry it into effect, and could not but highly refent the temerity of those who had difappointed her merciful intentions." Upon the whole, it feems to me moft probable, that the minifters of Elizabeth, I mean Burleigh, Walfingham, and Leicester, to whom the death of the Queen of Scots was "a confummation devoutly to be wifhed," not being able to bring Elizabeth to a firm and fettled refolution on that point, ventured to encourage Davidson to fend off the warrant for execution without her knowledge; hoping, perhaps, that fhe would in her heart not be much displeased with their prefumption, or, at the worst, in confequence of the fnare laid for the unfortunate Secretary, it was forefeen that the chief weight of the Queen's refentment would fall upon him; and they depended upon their own addrefs, and the degree of royal favour they enjoyed, to screen them from any violent or lasting effects of the Queen's difpleafure. If it can be fuppofed that the Queen herself was a party in this plot against Davidson, it must be allowed that her conduct in' this inftance was in the highest degree difgraceful, barbarous, and unjuft; but fo far as I am able to form a judgment of her difpofition, fhe was not capable of such a degree of depravity and deceit ; nor do I think there is fufficient ground to charge her